The official holiday driving period has finished this morning, with 18 people dying on New Zealand's roads.

The period ran from 4pm December 23 to 6am this morning.

During the same period last year 12 people were killed, while in 2009/10 13 people died.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee said the toll was a "disappointing result".


"Every fatality and serious injury is a tragedy for the families and loved ones of those involved," Mr Brownlee said.

"Many people will still be returning from holidays and I urge drivers to take extra care to focus on the job at hand.

"By driving responsibly, and to the conditions, we can lessen the chances of a crash to ensure this disappointing trend over the holiday period doesn't continue through the year."

Mr Brownlee said the Ministry of Transport will be looking closely at the causes of the fatal crashes over the holiday period.

"It looks like speed has been an issue and it appears many of those that died may not have been wearing seatbelts.

"Ministry officials will be analysing all the crashes so we get a better understanding of the factors behind this holiday's high road toll as well as researching the low road toll of 2011."

While the holiday road toll was high, the death toll for the year was 284, down from 369 from the year before.

- Herald online